What is Visualisation?
If you are unaware of visualisation therapy, then let me explain…
Visualisation is the act of imagining yourself in a peaceful and safe environment – a place that makes you relaxed and happy. By transferring yourself there mentally, you’re able to calm your mind and body and sufficiently distract yourself with something that relaxes you.
When practicing Visualisation Therapy there are three keys to making it work – three keys that most people forget. These include:
- Practice Visualisation is not relaxing right away, because it’s not natural. When you first start out, you’re trying to think of what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to feel, and those thoughts generally prevent visualisation from working. For visualisation to take effect, you need to do it every day for a long enough time that it becomes second nature. Only if you give it that level of dedication will it be successful.
- All Senses When you visualise, you need to imagine more than just the way a place looks. You also need to imagine your other senses being filled as well. For example, what does the place smell like? What does the place sound like? The more you can fill all of your senses, the more effective your visualisation technique will be.
- Actions Those that have practiced visualisation know that you will experience stressful thoughts on occasion. In visualisation, you’ll need a way to transform those stressful thoughts into something that you can get rid of, and then genuinely imagine it being taken away.
How to Perform Visualisation
- Step 1: Choosing Your Safe Place
- The first thing you need to do is start your visualisation relaxation strategy is to decide where your most relaxing place is. It should be a place that has no association with stress – someplace clean, visually attractive, and relaxing to the senses.
- It can be anywhere – your favourite park, your cleanest room, a spot you noticed on a recent holiday, or if you’re using visualisation for hot flushes, a walk down a snowy lane! It doesn’t have to be a real place either. You can make a place up based on what you think would provide you with the greatest degree of relaxation. For example, perhaps you find the idea of a cruise relaxing, so you imagine yourself there. Or try googling some images of beautiful place for inspiration.
- Consider this step for a long time, because it’s important to stick with this place once you find it. Changing to a new location each time makes it harder to find it relaxing. Remember to think about how these places may affect your other senses. What sounds, smells, etc., will you experience if you’re there. These will be important later.
Step 2: Find a Real Relaxing Place
Now that you’ve figured out where your relaxing destination is, find a comfortable place to perform the technique. It should be as quiet as possible, and you should be sitting somewhere comfortable to make sure you’re not experiencing any aches and pains during the technique. A comfortable chair would be great, and if appropriate, you may even want to loosen your clothes a little if you find that you’re dressed in something too constricting. You need to be in a physically relaxing place for this to work.
Eventually, the fact that you’re in a relaxing place will actually increase the success of the visualisation technique. You’ll start to associate the technique with the relaxing location, which will ultimately have a greater effect on its viability.
Step 3: Start Your Immersion
Close your eyes and start imagining yourself there. Where are you? What’s around you? What do you see? Why is it so relaxing? What do you hear? What do you smell? What gentle things can you touch?
At first, thinking about all of these things is going to make it harder to relax, which is why this isn’t something that will work instantly. But there are so many things to consider. Try to immerse yourself in the location. Think of every detail.
Step 4: Relax Your Body
Make a conscious effort to feel relaxed. Don’t expect to be anxiety free, of course. But if your muscles are tensed up, see if you can relax them. If you’re having stressful thoughts, imagine what it would feel like if those thoughts went away.
Even if you don’t feel relaxed, try to imagine what it feels like to be relaxed. Think about how your muscles feel, and how your heart will feel, and how your mind will feel. These are all important, because eventually instead of thinking about how you’re supposed to feel, you’ll start to learn to actually feel that way.
Step 5: Taking Away the Stresses
Now, the reality with visualisation is that you’re not necessarily going to forget your stresses altogether. Sometimes they’ll nag you in the back of your mind. Sometimes they’ll actually enter your “relaxing space.”
Here, your strategy is to do something that is going to be a little ridiculous at first, but will make sense the more you practice. You’re going to give yourself a bit of a magic power – the ability to mentally transform your stress into some type of object.
You can choose the object, but let’s use the beach as an example, and your magic power is to turn the thing making you stressed into a rock. When you feel yourself thinking about what’s making you stressed, you have the power to turn that stress into a smooth white pebble. Once you do, you can imagine a dove flying down to your location and picking the pebble up in its beak and flying it out into the sunset, further and further away until it’s gone.
As it’s “flying” try to imagine what it would be like if that was actually possible. The further the pebble goes, the more relaxed you would feel. Imagine what that would feel like – how your body would react. The further it goes in the distance the more relaxed you are.
Maybe your stress comes back, but in this case, maybe it’s a bit smaller. The smaller it is, the easier time the dove has carrying it, and the faster it goes away.
You can imagine anything, provided it continues to contribute to that feeling of relaxation. You can imagine yourself throwing the object into the distance, or imagine the river washing ashore, picking it up and letting it float away. You can also imagine something other than a pebble – anything you imagine should be innocuous, and somehow it needs to be taken away from your imagination.
Again, this isn’t going to work at first. At first, it may actually be funny – or contribute to stress because you keep expecting it to do more than it does. That’s okay. The key is to remember that it does work much more effectively the longer you keep at it, and eventually you’ll stop imagining what it will be like if something could take your stress away – you’ll simply imagine it getting picked up, and feel yourself less stressed as you do it.
Step 6: Practice
Finally, keep at it indefinitely. It’s important to promise to yourself that you’ll continue to do this for at least one or two months minimum, because the activity has to be second nature for it to work. If you’re still constantly thinking about what you’re supposed to do and what it’s supposed to feel like, it won’t work, so only by doing it daily for a long period of time will you get used to what you’re supposed to do, and see the benefits of the result
Benefits of Visualisation
Visualisation is not a cure. What it is, is a relaxation strategy that makes it much easier for you to cope with your symptoms during menopause. In a way, it’s simply a method of giving you a “break” from your stress so that menopause doesn’t control your life. You’ll still have some symptoms, but the more you engage in visualisation, the less debilitating they will be and will hopefully give you some control over them, and an easier a time you’ll have enjoying your day to day activities.